European Union: The European Commission's Evaluation And Fitness Check Roadmap: An Opportunity To Improve The Eu-Central America Association Agreement

Last Updated: 12 August 2019
Article by Amal Bouchenaki and Silvia Marroquin

On 29 June 2012, the European Union and the six partner countries in Central America – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – signed an Association Agreement ( the EU-Central America Association Agreement) (the “Association Agreement“). The purpose of this FTA was to develop trade and investment relations between parties.

On 13 May 2019, the European Commission published an Evaluation and Fitness Check Roadmap on the Association Agreement to assess the economic, social, human rights, and environmental impact of the trade agreement since it was first implemented.

The Evaluation is part of the European Commission’s Better Regulation agenda which requires that every Directorate-General of the European Commission consult citizens and stakeholders to identify areas of development of European Union legislation. The results are intended to help improve the implementation of the agreement and are expected to be of assistance for recently concluded FTAs.

Trade between the European Union and Central America

The European Union and Central America’s economic integration processes have evolved concurrently. A few years after the creation of the European Economic Community, Central America created the Central American Common Market (MCCA) tariff system. Despite the growth of interregional trade, it was not until the 1990s that the consolidation of a trade framework became a strategic priority. In 1991, the creation of the Central America Integration System (SICA) established the region’s institutional system, followed by the signature of the Guatemala Protocol in 1993, which materialized the region’s commitment to build a customs union.

In this context of fortification of the free trade zone and encouragement of intraregional foreign trade, Central America and the European Union signed the Framework Cooperation Agreement in 1993. The European Union has been a strategic partner in Central America’s economic integration process, by focusing its trade policy on bilateral trade and the creation of a customs union. In the past decades, both regions have taken active steps towards concluding an agreement that includes a free trade area.1

The EU-Central America Association Agreement

The Association Agreement aims at strengthening economic relations by increasing the stability and predictability of the trade and investment environment, and promoting sustainable development in both regions. It was designed as a means to diversify Central America’s exports, and to open the telecommunications, financial, environmental, and maritime services markets for EU firms interested in doing business in Central America. It is one of the first of a new generation of European Union FTAs, and it is also the first region-to-region agreement in Latin America.

Three complementary pillars provide the structure for the Association Agreement: political dialogue (Part II), cooperation (Part III), and trade (Part IV). The objectives of Part IV consist of the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade, and the facilitation of trade through agreed provisions on customs and trade facilitation, standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures. The comprehensiveness of the agreement lies, among other things, on the inclusion of specific provisions regarding competition, the improved access to government procurement, and a chapter on the protection of intellectual, industrial, and commercial property rights. Additionally, the Association Agreement includes a mediation mechanism and a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism;2 provisions supporting sustainable development; and consultation of civil society stakeholders in a bi-regional Dialogue Forum and Advisory Groups.

Further, the Association Agreement has advanced the creation of a foreign customs union in Central America and allowed the region to unify its criteria for the export and import of products. According to the Association Committee, the trade flows between the European Union and Central America have grown continuously in the past years3 due to the increased market access and a more predictable trade and investment relationship generated by the Association Agreement.

The European Commission’s empirical evaluation to improve implementation

The Evaluation Roadmap’s (the “Evaluation“) stated purpose is to produce a report based on evidence assessing the impact of the implementation of the trade provisions and identifying areas that need improvement. The Evaluation seeks input from citizens and stakeholders on: (i) the effectiveness of the Association Agreement to promote trade and investment and to contribute to sustainable development; (ii) the efficiency in relation to the resources used; (iii) the relevance of the Association Agreement with respect to the current trade and economic needs and challenges facing the European Union and Central America; and (iv) the coherence of the Association Agreement with the objectives of the European Union’s trade and other external policies.

The Evaluation will take into account previous studies conducted by the EU4 and external third parties, and use the data available from EUROSTAT and COMTRADE, among other databases. An external study will compile a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the information.

As part of the Evaluation, the EU is seeking online feedback until 30 August 2019. In addition to the possibility of providing feedback online – which will be published contemporaneously on the site – the Evaluation includes a Civil Society Dialogue in Brussels, a 12-week online public consultation, and a targeted online survey for business users. The results are expected to be adopted by the European Commission during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Significance and next steps

Central America has trade agreements with more than twelve states and groups of states, such as the United States and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA), Chile, and Panama. While the negotiations of some of these agreements have been carried out jointly by the partner countries, the provisions apply distinctively to each of them. The Association Agreement is a novel agreement – it is the first to be negotiated by the Central American group with another group of states in a regional integration framework. The integration process in Central America is one of the first and most successful in Latin America, although compared to the European Union its level of integration has room to grow. The Association Agreement has reinforced the economic and political integration in the region, which is why its effective implementation is central to carry on this process.

This Evaluation represents the EU’s continuing efforts – which involve a number of reports, workshops and meetings – to ensure that the Association Agreement specifically, and other regional comprehensive trade agreements serve their purpose and can be implemented effectively. The EU has carried out on-going economic cooperation with regional players in Latin America and the Caribbean since the 1990s. It has concluded trade agreements with Latin American groupings, a multiparty trade agreement with three members of the Andean Community, and bilateral agreements with Chile and Mexico. In addition, the European Union and Mercosur have recently agreed to a bi-regional trade agreement after negotiating for the past twenty years (see our recent post).The implications of the Evaluation are thus two-fold. First, the report will indicate lessons for the future implementation. Second, it will also yield data that can be usefully applied to other existing trade agreements, and inform the negotiations and design of future agreements.

From the European Union standpoint, the Evaluation comes at a time where it is asserting a new interventionism in the realm of investment agreements in a post-Achmea context. While the European Commission has been advocating to move away from the traditional system of bilateral investment treaties and investor arbitration – on the grounds that intra-EU investment arbitration is incompatible with European Union law – a new wave of FTAs supports the European Union’s approach to switch to a multilateral investment court system in the future. In this regard, see our recent discussion on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA) dispute resolution provision.

In the meantime, stakeholders, companies that conduct trade in the region, business associations, and citizens are invited to participate in the Evaluation.


1 The state-to-state dispute settlement applies to Part IV of the Association Agreement, and does not apply to disputes between the Republics of Central America.

2 Association Committee 14 June 2018 – Summary Report, 29 June 2018,

3 The Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) "EU-Central America Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment" of September 2009; the four annual reports of implementation of the Agreement issued so far (COM(2015)0131, COM(2016)0073, COM(2017)0160, COM(2018)728)),

4 The European Union has an inter-regional framework agreement with Mercosur and bilateral framework agreements with its founding members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions